When a mild Halloween is followed by an even milder November, there’s nothing for it but to break out the old beach towels again and go back to the park. Yes, it gets late earlier these days, like (the late) Yogi Berra used to say. But while those fine golden hours last, it’s lovely to spend them surrounded by the crisp autumn air, meeting friends old and new.
Our reporter friend from the New York Times came out again, shooting some more video for her story, which we’re hoping will see the light of day while there’s still enough daylight to see it by. Two first-timers from St. Louis also came, together with a bunch of our regulars, and we all enjoyed doughnuts and hot chocolate and a discussion of unreliable narrators and the feel of the breeze against our skin.
We were probably more conspicuous than at the height of summer, if only because we were the only ones sitting out on the lawn, but no one bothered us, and the handful of passers-by our reporter friend spoke with all seemed at worst indifferent to and at best supportive of what we were doing.
To be fair, there were other things going on nearby to capture the attention of people in the mood to be shocked — the performance artist Matthew Silver and his crew were leaping about wildly in their underwear just outside the park, while a few yards away someone had outfitted a batch of taxidermied rats with roller skates and remote controls and was scooting them around underfoot. (Yes, one of them had a slice of pizza gripped in its claws.) What’s a half dozen women calmly discussing books without their shirts on compared to that?
But as our St. Louis friends reminded us, this is nothing to take for granted. Where they’re from, doing what we did would be illegal — six women who did it recently got arrested for it, they told us. It’s something to remember, and something for us, living in New York, to be thankful for. The simple act of sitting shirtless in a park on a beautiful fall day should not be a crime, either for women or for men, and where we live it isn’t one. It’s really not too much to ask that women everywhere have the same right.